Measures of Equality: Social Science, Citizenship, and Race in Cuba, 1902-1940 / Edition 1

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Overview

In the years following Cuba's independence, nationalists aimed to transcend racial categories in order to create a unified polity, yet racial and cultural heterogeneity posed continual challenges to these liberal notions of citizenship. Alejandra Bronfman traces the formation of Cuba's multiracial legal and political order in the early Republic by exploring the responses of social scientists, such as Fernando Ortiz and Israel Castellanos, and black and mulatto activists, including Gustavo Urrutia and Nicolas Guillen, to the paradoxes of modern nationhood.

Law, science, and the social sciences--which, during this era, enjoyed growing status in Cuba as well as in many other countries--played central roles in producing knowledge and shaping social categories in postindependence Cuba. Anthropologists, criminologists, and eugenicists embarked on projects intended to employ the tools of science to rid Cuba of the last vestiges of a colonial past. Meanwhile, the legal arena created both new freedoms and new modes of repression. Black and mulatto intellectuals and activists, working to ensure that citizenship offered concrete advantages rather than empty promises, appropriated changing social scientific and legal categories and turned them to their own uses. In the midst of several decades of intermittent racial violence and expanding social and political mobilization by Cubans of African descent, debates among intellectuals and activists, state officials, and legislators transformed not only understandings of race, but also the terms of citizenship for all Cubans.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Brilliant and entertaining . . . Takes us from such fractious beginnings to the construction of black political identities in the 1930s. A virtuoso performance that contributes a great deal to our understanding of Cuban social and intellectual history. . . . Sets out a provocative agenda for further research.--American Historical Review

An exciting and innovative study that will surely influence scholarship on twentieth-century Cuba for some time.--Hispanic American Historical Review

An important contribution to the historiography on the construction of race and political identity in Latin America and the Caribbean. . . . [This] ought to be required reading for scholars and graduate students who specialize in the construction of race and national identities in Latin America and the Caribbean.--The American Journal of Legal History

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780807855638
  • Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press
  • Publication date: 12/13/2004
  • Series: Envisioning Cuba Series
  • Edition description: 1
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 256
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Alejandra Bronfman is assistant professor of history at the University of British Columbia.
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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments xi
Introduction 1
1 Unsettled and Nomadic: Law, Anthropology, and Race 17
2 Social Science and the Negro Brujo 37
3 Barbarism and Its Discontents 67
4 Contested Histories: Public Memory and Collective Identities 87
5 Social Science, State-Making, and the Politics of Time 107
6 The Politics of Blackness on the Eve of Revolution 135
7 From Comparsas to Constitutions 159
Epilogue 183
Notes 187
Bibliography 207
Index 229
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